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First-place Sixers head down to Charlotte

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NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia is coming off its most surprising win in the season, a huge fourth-quarter comeback over Indiana that served as the team’s first victory this year without Joel Embiid. The Sixers may not have to repeat the trick tonight in Charlotte, as although Joel has not been officially cleared to play, he practiced yesterday and expectations are that he will return after four days of rest. The same cannot be said for Mike Scott, who experienced a setback with his knee injury on Monday. His spot would appear to be the most likely to be upgraded at next month’s trade deadline.

While the still-undefeated full starting lineup may reunite Voltron-style for Philadelphia, the same cannot be said for Charlotte. The Hornets will be without forward P.J. Washington, who injured his foot when Jimmy Butler stepped on it Monday night. Thanks for the assist on that one, literally Jimmy. Terry Rozier is also questionable for tonight’s game with a sprained ankle; he sat out Monday’s game, which gave rookie LaMelo Ball his first start of the season.

Ball had another productive outing in the start, recording 14 points and seven assists, but it was fourth-year guard Malik Monk who stole the show. After being completely out of the rotation for much of the season, Monk has come on the last two games, dropping 18 points on Saturday before hitting nine 3s for a whopping 36 points on Monday. If you’re looking for the “random guard/wing to go off against the Sixers,” Monk’s your man.

Since the two-game series between these two teams last month, the Hornets have returned Cody Zeller to the lineup, so they’ll at least have a functional big body to go up against Embiid, should he play. Regardless, if Embiid takes the floor, expect the odds-on MVP favorite to eat down low, and for the still-undefeated starting lineup to extend the Sixers’ lead as the top team in the Eastern Conference. Savor that sentence, Sixers fans.

Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Charlotte Hornets
When: 7:00pm ET
Where: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Follow: @Liberty_Ballers

Injuries:

Philadelphia: Joel Embiid - questionable (back); Mike Scott - out (knee); Vincent Poirier - out (medical protocols); Terrance Ferguson - out (medical protocols)
Charlotte: P.J. Washington - out (foot); Terry Rozier - questionable (ankle); Grant Riller - out (knee)